As if I don't already have enough low-traffic blogs, I needed to go start another one. I decided to give Eponym a try. I've already got my main blog running on WordPress, a second blog over at Blogger, and I'm also fidding with b2evolution (review coming soon). I'm a sucker for trying new things.
Eponym offers a free basic account, and upgrades start at $4.95/month. Their shiny website proclaims that they have the "easiest to use and most comprehensive feature set of any blog service on the Internet." OK, then, show me your stuff.
I got an account and started my new blog, called (for now) "Sustain This!" (I'm obsessed about peak oil lately. Who woulda thought?)
And let me just say - wow. I am actually quite impressed with Eponym's blogging system. As you can see, I've used quite a few different blog systems. I've also had extensive experience with Movable Type/TypePad (what this blog is hosted on), Eponym's top competitor for the pay-to-play enhanced blogspace.
Eponym is starting to win me over for a number of reasons:
1. Superior Design and Content Layout.
I'm sorry, but can I admit that most TypePad templates are just butt ugly? And the same goes for Blogger. WordPress does a little better. Eponym has some pretty nifty templates - at the free level, the selection isn't extensive, but I liked what I saw. But here's where it gets interesting:
Eponym allows you to choose your design, and then goes a step further and gives you three layout styles to choose from. (Two-column left, two-column right, and three columns.) Once you have chosen your layout, you can then pop in your components just by dragging and dropping them into a window.
Now - pardon me if I am incorrect about TypePad's capabilities here, because I've only had full control over a custom Movable Type installation - but I have never seen any blog software offer such flexibility and ease of content layout.
Eponym offers a number of ready-made components for a variety of commonly-used blogging features, such as recent posts, recent comments, categories, visitors, etc. Instead of tinkering with template code, you just drag the component to the location you want it, and presto! There it is.
Even niftier - you can create your own custom component and drag that into its slot as well. I did this with Google ads (since I'm always working on monetizing my blogs). It worked perfectly.
2. Robust Content Organization.
Blogger, as we all know, fails the most when it comes to its lack of categories. Other blog platforms similarly disappoint, by making categories unilevel or hard to manage. Eponym offers nested categories, ways to display different categories differently (I admit I haven't explored this function yet), and an option to allow posts in subcategories to "bubble up" to parent categories.
Eponym also offers custom keywords for each article, sticky articles (that will remain on the top of the blog), and special posting functions for movie and book reviews. Neat.
I will say honestly that I haven't tried photos yet, as I do not plan to use them much on this particular blog. But the functionality is there to create full photo albums with your Eponym blog, and I can tell this would be fantastic when used properly.
4. Streamlined back-end.
Eponym's user interface is simple and easy to use. There is a slight learning curve to figure out all the options and how to use them, but mostly this is a very user-friendly system.
Eponym offers robust site statistics, even at the free level. You'll not only find out how many hits your site gets, but you'll see what sites your visitors came from (referrer logs). Pretty darn nifty.
The Final Word
Overall, I have to say that Eponym has a fantastic service and should become a strong rival to TypePad. (I never liked TypePad - it seems clumsy to me and the interface never felt friendly.) If Eponym has one potential downfall, it's that it currently does not support multiple blogs easily (though that is on the way), and it's pricing isn't necessarily cheap compared to TypePad at the upper levels.
The free version does have an Eponym bar at the top (like Blogger) and some ads that must stay put on the page. (I don't care about the ads so much, and in fact, I added more ads.) When you upgrade your account, the Eponym bar and ads will be removed. If they someday offer an inexpensive way to host multiple blogs like TypePad, I may upgrade to a paid account and move my Blogger blog over.
If you are looking to start a new blog, I'd suggest giving Eponym a test run. I'm quickly becoming a convert and you may, too.